Climate Questions: Who is most vulnerable to climate change?

Oct 17, 2022, 5:03 PM | Updated: Nov 6, 2022, 6:23 am
Who is most vulnerable to climate change? (AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin)...

Who is most vulnerable to climate change? (AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin)

(AP Illustration/Peter Hamlin)

Most of the world’s population has been affected in some way by climate change — 85% of the world, in fact. But the effects of climate change haven’t been equally felt by all. Some communities have seen a slight rise in temperature here and there, but others have had their entire communities wiped out.

As the rise of global temperatures and sea-level continues to affect the world with increasingly frequency and intensity, who are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change?


EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is part of an ongoing series answering some of the most fundamental questions around climate change, the science behind it, the effects of a warming planet and how the world is addressing it.


The answer is clear, according to climate scientists, climate and environmental justice experts and international research efforts on the question. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found in a 2022 report that vulnerability to climate change is “exacerbated by inequity and marginalization linked to gender, ethnicity, low income or combinations thereof.”

“(The) poor, ethnic minorities, and women are very clearly the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change that we are already seeing today: heat waves; displacement and smoke due to fires; and price shocks due to supply chain interruptions, higher energy prices,” Daniel Kammen, a professor of energy at the University of California, Berkeley and a coordinating lead author on IPCC reports, told The Associated Press.

These populations are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change because of racism, sexism and pursuit of profits over protection of people, according to Bineshi Albert, co-executive director of the Climate Justice Alliance.

“Due to the continued search for profits by our current economic system and (by) the fossil fuel industry in particular, there are entire neighborhoods that are deemed worthy of becoming sacrifice zones, and this breaks down every time around race, class, and national lines,” she said.

Research also shows that disabled people are more vulnerable to effects of climate change than abled bodied people.

The increased vulnerability to climate change experienced by these populations and who is to blame for causing these inequities have become increasing topics of conversation at the international level. Debate about loss and damage — the climate harm caused by some nations to others, how much and what should be done about it — has waged on since at least COP23.

A study published in July 2022 found that richer nations like the U.S. caused climate harm to poorer countries.

In terms of repairing damage already caused to vulnerable populations and countries and helping them become less vulnerable, experts told the AP that it starts with including them in developing policies.

“A natural start is to develop policies to target these underserved communities with enhanced attention and support,” Kammen said.

Albert said it should go a step further with direct economic investments in communities most vulnerable to climate change.

“Economic resources should go directly to those on the frontlines of the climate crisis to develop and implement their own community-led solutions,” she said. “Communities rather than profits must be the motive if we are truly going to solve the climate crisis.”


Follow Drew Costley on Twitter: @drewcostley.


Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Toru Kubota, a Japanese journalist jailed for more than three months in Myanmar, speaks during a pr...
Associated Press

Japan filmmaker freed from Myanmar prison vows to tell story

TOKYO (AP) — Toru Kubota, a Japanese journalist who was arrested while covering a protest in military-ruled Myanmar and detained for more than three months, said his experience made him more determined to tell the story of people there. “I feel I can understand their feelings more,” he said at a news conference in Tokyo […]
1 day ago
FILE - Chinese President Xi Jinping waves at an event to introduce new members of the Politburo Sta...
Associated Press

China’s Xi faces public anger over draconian ‘zero COVID’

SHANGHAI (AP) — Barely a month after granting himself new powers as China’s potential leader for life, Xi Jinping is facing a wave of public anger of the kind not seen for decades, sparked by his draconian “zero COVID” program that will soon enter its fourth year. Demonstrators poured into the streets over the weekend […]
1 day ago
British Minister of State for Indo-Pacific Anne-Marie Trevelyan speaks at the National Press Club i...
Associated Press

UK minister says Australian submarines will assure neighbors

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s shift to nuclear-powered submarines will assure its South Pacific neighbors of its commitment to regional security, Britain’s Minister of State for the Indo-Pacific said Monday. Australia will announce in March what type of submarine powered with U.S. nuclear technology it wants to build under a deal with the United States […]
1 day ago
A woman shouts during a protest in Beijing, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. Protesters angered by strict ant...
Associated Press

China affirms zero-COVID stance, eases rules after protests

BEIJING (AP) — Authorities eased anti-virus rules in scattered areas but affirmed China’s severe “zero- COVID” strategy Monday after crowds demanded President Xi Jinping resign during protests against controls that confine millions of people to their homes. The government made no comment on the protests or criticism of Xi, the most widespread display of opposition […]
1 day ago
FILE - Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko talks with US President George W.Bush, at the NATO Sum...
Associated Press

14 years on, NATO to renew a vow to Ukraine

BUCHAREST (AP) — NATO returns on Tuesday to the scene of one of its most controversial decisions, intent on repeating its vow that Ukraine — now suffering through the 10th month of a war against Russia — will join the world’s biggest military alliance one day. NATO foreign ministers will gather for two days at […]
1 day ago
This photo mad available by Ukrainian doctor Oleh Duda shows the moment when lights at a hospital w...
Associated Press

Surgeons work by flashlight as Ukraine power grid battered

KHERSON, Ukraine (AP) — Dr. Oleh Duda, a cancer surgeon at a hospital in Lviv, Ukraine, was in the middle of a complicated, dangerous surgery when he heard explosions nearby. Moments later, the lights went out. Duda had no choice but to keep working with only a headlamp for light. The lights came back when […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
Climate Questions: Who is most vulnerable to climate change?